Small Bites for a Patio Picnic

Hooray!!! It's beginning to feel and look like Spring!
Or at least it was. (There's snow today. Ugh.)

But, warmer weather is coming, which means it's time to open a couple bottles of lovely, chilled Vin Gris and have a "small bites" dinner. Instead of a heavy meat and potatoes meal tonight, why not grab a light sweater (or a scarf, gloves and winter coat, in my case) and head out to your porch or patio and have a lazy supper in the sun? Set out some pretty napkins, and fill your plate with nutty cheeses, dried fruits, and crisp flatbreads, and snack on bowls of briny olives and pickled veggies. Graze on creamy hummus and crunchy crudités. And, if you have some, maybe shrimp cocktail or some cured meats? Weeknight meals don't have to be boring -- you can always find a reason to celebrate.

For instance, I'm toasting myself for making these beautifully simple tarts, which are a tasty addition to any patio picnic. Made with a quick dough and filled with a savory combo of goat cheese, chicken, kale, and sun-dried tomatoes, they're just divine. Cheers!

Savory Chicken, Kale and Sun-dried Tomato Tarts
(Makes two dozen tarts)

2 cups self-rising flour
2 TBS olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
6 TBS water

4 oz plain goat cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken breast
1/4 cup minced kale
2 TBS finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Smoked sea salt or Kosher salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning mix

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 1

To Do:

For the dough--
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
  • Mix together the flour, oil, salt, and water until well combined. 
  • Form the dough into a ball, divide it in half, and let rest (loosely cover with plastic wrap) for 10-15 mins. 
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the dough balls into a square-type shape, then using a cookie cutter or pastry ring, cut into a dozen 2-inch circles. Repeat with second ball of dough.
  • Grease two mini muffin pans then line each muffin well with a cut dough circle. Use pie weights (or lightly score the bottom of each dough shell with a fork) to help keep their shape while baking.
  • Bake about 10 minutes, or until firm, then remove from the oven and let cool.
For the filling--
  • Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the goat cheese and cream cheese until light and fluffy.
  • Stir in the chicken, kale, sun-dried tomato, garlic powder, salt and seasoning mix until well combined.
  • Fill each tart shell with a bit of the mixture, then bake about 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Remove from oven and serve warm. (But, they're great right out of the fridge, too.)
So, pour that glass of wine, munch on a few of these tarts, and let dinner last a little longer than usual tonight. And maybe, just maybe the sun will stick around too....
Happy Spring!

P.S. Get more small bite recipes here and here.